In honor of Illinois Bicentennial and Women’s History Month, North Central College hosted the “Votes For Women!” play.
The story takes place inside of a train bound for Washington D.C. for a women’s right rally.
The drama pays homage to Chicago-area suffragettes of the 1900s. Belle Squire, Virginia Brooks, and Ida B. Wells are joined by a reporter who’s the only male on the train.
Giuliano Catalano, who plays the reporter covering the event, says sharing the stage with the pioneers is something he’ll never forget.
“It’s really humbling to able to be in a show with three actors that really bring the characters to life. To be on stage with Ida B. Wells Belle Squire, [and] Virginia Brooks that’s pretty amazing,” said Catalano.
The story’s playwright, Zachary Jack, wanted to write a play for women’s history month and when the Forgotten Illinois Program gave him a grant it helped narrow his focus.
Jack, who’s written several pieces on women’s history before, said he wanted to highlight an important fact of Illinois.
“I knew that Illinois was the first state east of the Mississippi River to grant woman the right to vote for president. And I think that’s a fact that a lot of people in the state don’t realize,” Jack said.
The forgotten quotes of the Chicago-area activists take a life of their own as the women talk about the discriminations they face.
One of the biggest was the amount of money women paid for the train ride. According to the reporter, 65 Illinois women paid $2000 for a ticket, adjusted for today that’s nearly $3.2 million in total.
Ariana Burks, who played Ida B. Wells, says she was in awe of what women overcame.
“That’s very inspiring to me because it makes me realize that you can do all that you want to do. The main thing is just to be kind, be a good person, and know that your fight is for a cause and the right thing,” said Burks.
Remembering the past, to help guide us into the future.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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